Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 21 February 2021
LOWER HUTT, New Zealand - Jose Figueira praises players after Auckland City FC pick up a 1-1 draw with the Wellington Phoenix in sweltering conditions in Lower Hutt on Saturday.
The result gave Auckland City FC their eighth consecutive league title and a home semi-final in March.
AUDIO INTERVIEW - Jose FIGUEIRA
"I'm delighted with the outcome today and happy to officially clinch top spot in what is an eighth title in a row for the club which is a great achievement by all.
"Today's game was a tight one, a real tactical battle and obviously we'd made a few rotations and changes and gave an opportunity to players who had worked hard and wanted to get on the pitch.
"While we always want to win every game, and probably could've in the second half with the chances we created, we're happy to take the point to confirms that top spot," he said.
Logan Rogerson played a key role netting his seventh goal of the season after Riley Bidois handed the Wee Nix the lead just after the break.
"Logan is in a great run of form. Last season was a bit stop and start for him with injuriy and he's come into this campaign full of life, confident, fit and healthy and understands how we want to play.
"He understands how we want to play and his responsibilities on the pitch. He's bringing a real consistency and maturity to his game as well.
"Once a player starts to do that, he's got the individual skill sets with pace and creativity to unlock defences and cause lots of danger. We're starting to see that output in assists and today's goal," he said.
By rotating the squad, Figueira was aware of the benefit of giving players much needed minutes ahead of the playoffs but always felt calm as the Wee Nix turned in a spirited performance on home turf.
Youth products Dre Vollenhoven and Aidan Carey both appeared giving the former his fifth appearance of the season and the latter his third.
"I wouldn't say we were nervous. We tweaked things at half time which enabled us to dominate the ball and control things a lot higher up the pitch.
"We carved out some really good chances and the timing of them losing a man opened up a few more spaces for us and created an advantage.
"The Phoenix are always a tricky opposition and we put in a really solid and strong second half performance.
"On another day, if weren't for a couple of really good saves from a top goalkeeper, or picking our final pass better or a finish, we could've got all three points," he said.
Next week's game is with Waitakere United at Kiwitea Street on Saturday 27 February, 2021, kick-off at 3pm NZDT.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Saturday 20 February, 2021
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Riley BIDOIS 51')
Auckland City FC 1 (Logan ROGERSON 79')
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTACK, 8. Albert RIERA (c), 9. Kayne VINCENT (13. Dre VOLLENHOVEN 62'), 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 19. Logan ROGERSON (15. Aidan CAREY 79'), 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL.
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Saturday 20 February, 2021
Canterbury United 0-2 Team Wellington
Sunday 21 February, 2021
Eastern Suburbs AFC 1-1 Hamilton Wanderers
Waitakere United 2-0 Hawke's Bay United
5/6 March, 2021, Kiwitea Street, kick-off: TBC NZDT